For starters, I will say that this is purely a First World Problem (FWP) and I’m sorry for whining about FWP’s. That said being said, I am quite sick of the over saturation of positive attitude and compliments that really seem to plague (hyperbole) our world.
In school and in the media we are taught that everyone is special and awesome in their own special way. They are not. Every bit of truth that comes out in the news proves this isn’t true. People (as a collective unit) are mean and vicious and awful a lot of the time. The people who broke into my parent’s house and stole stuff are not awesome. The people who spray painted my back fence are not awesome (as people or artists – seriously your tags were lame). The people who bomb other people for having a different skin color or worshipping a different invisible man in the sky are not awesome. The people who refuse to own up to tweeting pictures of their own pecker are not awesome.
As you can see, there is a whole hell of a lot of not-awesome going on in the world everyday, and my thing is, why should I tell people they are awesome if they haven’t proved it? This isn’t the same as “All men are created equal…”, that’s about their status under the law and what protections they should be afforded. Thanks to DNA I do not have awesome hair. Thanks to ice cream and a lack of interest in exercise, I do not have an awesome waist line. I DO NOT expect to receive compliments on either of these things, nor should you if your hair or waist line resemble mine. There should be no reward for simply showing up, in work, life or whatever else you do with your time.
I assume that this all got started because people were worried about the self-esteem of others, or more accurately were worried about their own self-esteem and didn’t want their own foibles pointed out to them. I don’t know that it has helped though. It’s rare that any one alerts me that I’m a fatty but I am fully aware of it and at times even struggle with self-image. Sad face. Nobody avoiding the subject makes it any less true. I don’t think telling little Timmy that he is ‘great’ despite all empirical evidence really helps anyone. Either he knows you are lying, or he believes you and we have one more deluded ego maniac running around.
So, what about the Golden Rule? Well, for starters, I’m not encouraging everyone to go out and be an asshole. Far from it, in fact I’m something of a pacifist and at times even a bit of a nice guy myself. My problem is that when someone is being an asshole, I shouldn’t feel like I can’t respectfully point it out. I really (really, really) shouldn’t have to tell said asshole that he is being awesome, just because telling people they are awesome is what we do in our culture. It shouldn’t make me a bad person to cite reality when speaking aloud.
It starts in the home. I don’t think you should tell fat kids that they are bad people for being fat, but I also don’t think that parents should be telling their kids that they will turn out beautiful and perfect no matter what they do. They won’t. If you grow up to hurt people, cheat, lie, steal, or just generally be a dick full-time, then you are not beautiful and perfect. All we’re really doing is lying to our kids. That doesn’t make us awesome, beautiful, or perfect either.
I jokingly tell my daughter that I will always love her, unless she turns out to be a rapist, Nazi, or Republican. I don’t really know if I could love a Nazi rapist Republican, and hope that I never have to test that theory. Instead, I hope that I teach her to respect people and to be honest, even if it isn’t the brutal honesty that I am sometimes accused of. In essence, I hope to teach her to be awesome, instead of just telling her that she is.